While doing my spring cleaning I came across a CD of favorite hymns, played on exquisite music boxes. My husband and I acquired the CD at a most unusual museum, The Musical Wonder House in Wiscasset, ME. Rich and I vacationed in nearby Booth Bay Harbor back in the 1980’s and spent many days at the Musical Wonder House. We gave up dinners so we could take home a beautiful box of our own (see below). As we’re both musicians and Rich is a collector (Beatles and Linda Ronstadt paraphernalia) this museum really spoke to our hearts. The museum unfortunately closed in 2014.
A glimpse into Lizzie’s musical world
The CD, called Songs of Praise, contains favorite sacred songs along with music of the great masters such as Handel, Gounod and Martin Luthor. Since the heyday of music boxes was between 1830 and 1900, I think it’s safe to assume that many, if not all of these pieces were familiar to Elizabeth Alcott. It has given me a glimpse into her musical world.
Two of Lizzie’s favorite hymns
I’d like to share two hymns with you, both of which I have written about before as being her favorites (see previous post). They are both rendered on music boxes dating back to the 1890’s.
First, “Nearer My God to Thee” played on a Mira 18 inch console music box:
And second, “Come Ye Disconsolate” played on a 17 inch Stella music box:
We’ll never know if the Alcotts ever had the privilege of hearing such beautiful music boxes (perhaps through their wealthy Boston relatives) but I could just imagine Lizzie swooning (as I do) when I hear these beautiful renditions of her beloved hymns.
Our own music box
Here’s the box we bought made by Reuge, a Swiss company, playing the Faust Waltz:
Have any of you visited the Musical Wonder House?
Note: I’ve posted something new in From My Garret–quotes from Constance Fenimore Woolson about writing that really ring true. As she and Louisa lived during the same period (although Louisa was older), it’s a shame they didn’t meet. Not sure however if they would have been friends. You’ll have to read Anne Boyd Rioux’s biography of Woolson to find out. 🙂
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10 Replies to “Beautiful music box renditions of Lizzie’s favorite hymns”
That was truly magical 🙂 I haven’t seen these kind of music-boxes before ( I mean the ones with the round disc) thanks for posting!
We take it nowadays for granted we can listen to any music we want any moment of the day; but in Jo’s time it was really special.
That’s was fascinated me about the museum, those huge discs (and some of the “boxes” were huge pieces of furniture). So sad it has closed!
Oh, those are pretty. I love music boxes.
Just beautiful!! Do you remember the 1949 movie where Jo came home from New York with a music box for Beth?
No, I don’t recall that, I’ll have to pay attention to that the next time I see that version, I’ve only seen it once (and I liked it very much).
June Allison said to Margaret O’Brien: Presents first: see, Bethy, it will accompany you when you play. And Beth said she didn’t play much anymore because it was “such an effort.” (after she had thanked Jo heartily, of course.)
Oh cool, I’ll have to check that out. Thanks.
Susan, I adore these music boxes and the music they play. How lovely to know they were some of Louisa’s favorite songs. Thanks ever so much for treating us to this experience!
So glad you enjoyed it!